All Political Views Are Imperfect
Political Differences Come From Non-political Sources
Here is one take by Jonathan Haidt on the differences between conservatives and liberals...it may not be entirely correct, but an interesting take nonetheless.
"Truth" & the Reptilian Brain
During the last election I saved mail spam that was sent to my house. One of the pieces claimed that John Kerry was the most liberal member of congress. What does it mean to be "the most liberal member of congress"?
When a person I know well reminded me that "Obama is bad for America, and the most liberal member of congress" I showed them the matching attack ad mail pieces from 2004 and 2008.
Once the political marketers find a story that triggers the reptilian brain they stick with it...but it is hard to get people to see past their own biases when the reptilian brain is activated. They just want to yell at you or punch you, apparently because it is easier than being logical.
A couple years ago the Neuromarketing blog referenced a study about political marketing:
“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”
The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.
Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.
The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.
Market Idealisms Are False
Sometimes politics causes fights that are unneeded, as the reptilian portions of our brains fight each other based on emotions and ideological errors that push for "the truth." But the end game of unrestrained belief in a strategy creates a heavily flawed system that leads toward self-destruction until the pendulum swings in the other direction. And, as the pendulum swings from one direction to the next short term opportunistic businesses look for "legitimate" ways to fraud people. Unregulated markets end up no better than the worst parts of socialism.
BILL MOYERS:One of the British newspapers this morning had a headline, "Welcome to Socialism." It's not going that way, is it?
GEORGE SOROS:Well, you know, it's very interesting. Actually, these market fundamentalists are making the same mistake as Marx did. You see, socialism would have worked very well if the rulers had the interests of the people really at heart. But they were pursuing their self-interests. Now, in the housing market, the people who originated the houses earned the fee.
And the people who then owned the mortgages their interests were not actually looked after by the agents that were selling them the mortgages. So you have a, what is called an agent principle problem in socialism. And you have the same agent principle problem in this free market fundamentalism.
Form Your Vision of the Truth, Then Compile Anecdotal Evidence
People who do not understand the mortgage market meltdown like to claim liberal were at fault, offering quotes like this one, when the truth was that the fallout was caused by unrestrained greed, excessive leverage, low interest rates, and short term opportunism.
To Win, Politicians Must Lie
The party ideals have little to do with what the individuals intend to do because politicians are first and foremost marketers. To be a successful politician at the highest level in the United States being a liar is a prerequisite.
And that’s what we have in America today, only one side. Everybody’s on his own side, only speaking to himself, like-minded people. Who’s going to change the equation? Certainly not politicians, elected officials. Obama’s got to say he’s for drilling to get elected, because the person paying four bucks a gallon doesn’t know that it’ll take eons for said oil to reach the pump. We’ve got the businessmen raping and pillaging, the politicians lying, at best being expedient, and the only people we can count on to speak the truth have abdicated their power, their duty, their role. That’s what the job of the artist is. To question authority, challenge convention, speak the unpopular, if it’s the truth.
If politicians are well organized and articulate they should not need to spend much on advertising to get their message to spread. Consider how old the Keating 5 story is, and yet just the recent announcement of it lead to millions of video views, which lead to more media coverage. Politicians have the ability to create search volume out of thin air and make up new keywords simply by using them.
How Framing Works
Rather than being focused on getting the facts straight, politicians focus on idea association through naming. If you want to misinform and misdirect the consumer, rather than using the name "estate tax" you could rebrand the concept as "death tax" and then begin trashing it.
Can You Re-frame Issues?
John Kerry is sponsoring a site called Truth Fights Back, aiming to counter some anti-Obama claims. The site is raising money to be marketed on AdWords. But politicians connecting with people online should be able to spread their messages organically and virally...ads would not be as effective as encouraging linking and quoting. Also a big error that is made in "advertising the truth" is that by referencing the frame of thought and words of the liar you are giving into their framing.
If nothing else, Truth Fights Back is an indication that John Kerry still has no idea why he lost the election. If one wanted to fight McCain's lies a better brand would be something like How To Lie...with McCain's picture and personal brand stamped all over it.
Most people online multi-task. They read the headline, maybe skim a bit, and draw a conclusion. If you use headlines for misdirections (or quote others who are doing so) then people still associate the topics. For example, if you wrote an article stating Obama is not a Muslim then many people will still think Obama and Muslim are associated.
Put another way...
"A lie told often enough becomes truth" - Vladimir Lenin
If Obama wanted to re-brand the religious stuff he could do things like Huckabee did in this video...subtly hint another story without directly addressing the lies.
Rather than saying x is not true, it is best to just convey a different image.
A One Word Brand
Maurice Saatchi wrote:
The word is the saviour because in each category of global business, it will only be possible for one brand to own one particular word. And some of them have already been booked. Each brand can only own one word. Each word can only be owned by one brand. Take great care before you pick your word. It is going to be the god of your brand.
Within a brand you can of course have sub-brands and sub-products, but if you are going for a big launch you really want to make sure you pick the strategy and make it consistent with the larger brand strategy.
If the global brand strategy is built on ideas like openness and sharing, and then later introducing secrecy, that cuts away at past marketing efforts. There was a good example of this in the SEO industry where many people felt they were lied to and/or mislead. And if the marketing would have been consistent throughout that feeling of betrayal would not exist.
Great Books on Framing & Word Usage
A large part of why Al Gore and John Kerry lost to George W Bush was because they were too stiff and programmed. The Republican party is much better at crafting phrases the evoke emotions.Two great books that talk about political framing and using words to evoke emotions are George Lakoff's Don't Think of An Elephant (left leaning) and Frank Luntz's Words That Work (right leaning). Reading either of those (or better yet, both) will teach you more about marketing than most marketing blogs or books ever could.
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